The Oxford walk is over. It was a bit more hectic than last year, and a couple of things went wrong, but the turnout was good and people seemed to have a good time. Thanks to everyone who walked, special thanks to everyone who helped, and praise beyond words to my wife for setting this whole thing up and dedicating much of her time and efforts to it. Now, life can get back to 'normal'.
Along with the walk, Autism Awareness month is almost done. Last day is today. For many of you, this means one more charitable memory jogger is in the past and another to come. Your life can get back to normal, if indeed it was even affected.
Our comparative definitions of normal would be radically different.
Xan woke up laughing like a loon at 4:15 this morning. I have no idea why. I've blogged many times of the mystery and frustration of his lack of communication - this is our normal. But another part of that is his spontaneous joy over something I don't recognize. There are certain catchphrases that will send him howling in glee - not all of them from kid's stuff. Mystery Science Theater 3000 (one of our faves) gives him a lot of things to laugh about, things I wouldn't have guessed he would find funny or, really, understand. (I mean, what ten year old really gets the humor of one character saying "We're all doomed!" and a puppet firing back "Oh, he's a Calvinist!") Which could just be that what I find funny in something is not what he finds funny - something beyond what I get.
I don't think in these cases it's something sensory - like, on the flip side, the way echoes will bother him and make him cover his ears. (I once read that autistic people get signals from their different sides of the brain at different speeds - think about that and then add an echo in there) I believe in some cases the humor is the same for both of us. Other times, maybe it's a particular sound or inflection in the line, or maybe something in the background I don't notice but what makes all the difference to him that comes back to him when he hears the words again. Or, perhaps one of the words reminds him of something else that made him laugh - the code words I've referred to in other posts. Kinda like how one story, not that funny, can remind you of something else and make you laugh anyway.
Xan may have woken up and seen the shadows dancing on the wall, which reminded him of, maybe, Shadow from Bear in the Big Blue House. Or it could have made him think of chasing daddy's shadow when he was younger. The way they moved may have triggered happiness for some odd reason - the merging and coming apart, the odd and free formed shapes, the way they would blend into the dark around them and come back again, like water splashing in a constantly rotating waterfall.
Sometimes it's very, VERY hard to see beyond the things that cause him troubles. Since we want to fix what hurts him or makes him upset, those things are naturally what takes precedence and moves to the front of the line. And, since a meltdown commands a lot more attention than laughing, they also stick in the memory longer, sometimes along with bruises.
That is part of our normal now.
What is also part of our normal is being amazed at how normal things to Xander can be wondrous, extraordinary, amazing, hilarious, hypnotizing, engrossing and full of more than what I can see or imagine. His different normality.
Our normal can be tough, but his normal can be fantastic.